The concert is over, the review you can read here
from my point of view it was a very gratifying experience musically.
In 2 rehearsals I was able to fix the rhythm (rushing), tuning, lack of blend and phrasing problems that have plagued the PGSO for years. No more rushing or voices being drowned out. The result was a blended lyrical sound and a musical performance. I put a lot of thought into picking the music and planning the rehearsals.
The musicians ( we used no imports as I told the PGSO that we didn't need any and could produce a superior result just using PG players- and I was right) were super responsive and played very well and very musically. As I had always believed they just really want to make good music and connect with the audience just as I do. Its nice when everyone really wants to do whatever it takes to make great music and its not about egos, self promotion, revenge !? or any other side issues.
We played accessible repertoire that everyone, musicians included loves. Attendance was surprisingly good considering there was no advertising or promotion of the concert( why not I wonder).
The key; good programming, the right music for the group and audience and musical direction from in front that doesn't get in the way of the musicians artistry. The results; a better sounding orchestra, a happy audience(standing ovation though the reviewer will never mention it) and a cost effective concert. I wonder what the pgso thought about it?
It was also interesting to be on the management side of things. Though I must say it didn't change my perception of how things are they still looked pretty much the same. The musicians were very easy to deal with.
by Valerie Giles
Special to The Citizen
Turning an ordinary winter Sunday afternoon into a blissful idyll, the Prince George Symphony Orchestra served up a veritable feast of Baroque Christmas favourites.
Simon Cole, the orchestra’s principal clarinet player, stepped into the role of guest conductor and had some fun rounding out the performance with stories from centuries-old experiences surrounding creation of this music.
The music cascaded from one familiar piece into another, delighting the audience. Mouret’s Rondeau; Bach’s Cantata, Suite No. 3 and his especially wonderful Sheep May Safely Graze, the music evoked a generalized sense of well being and serenity.
The lyrically beautiful sound of the harpsichord was featured with flutes and bassoon in Bach’s Trio Sonata in G. In introducing this part, Conductor Cole sketched some of the political and social events affecting Bach’s career. Prince George Symphony audiences have become accustomed to such “peeks into the past” from conductors and continue to appreciate being provided such context.
Flautists Ariane Nelles and Don Bond provided an appropriate pairing of sound with the harpsichord for an authentic sense of music from the Middle Ages.
For those who favour Baroque music, the five movements of Bach’s Suite No. 3 help define this style’s popularity. From the inspiring and hopeful sound of the familiar Overture, the piece moves into the slow-paced Air which is uplifting as prayer. Purposeful rhythms in the third movement give the sense of moving towards a destination giving way to the Gavotte’s dramatic notes and repetitive patterns allowing listeners to anticipate the tempo changes. As with so much symphonic work, the final movement assumes a sense of grand occasion - the kind associated with stately processions.
The audience settled back after intermission to hear Les Folies D’espagne which Marais wrote in 30 short movements. Performed with bassoon, harpsichord, and oboe the piece is unusual because of the truncated stop-and-start playing. Having each movement announced by the players allowed the short phrases to act as descriptive titles.
Handel’s Water Music as well as Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and My Heart Ever Faithful remain perennial favourites. The sound rose like prayer in a mood-elevating way that literally soothes the soul.
And then came introduction of Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. A polyphonic piece with such pleasing baseline repeats, many hear the word “Alleluia” repeated over and over. The conductor admitted that the sound resonates with people and acknowledged its enduring popularity.
At concert’s end, all the Christmas favourites were played in Bach style. Simon Cole put forward the notion “If Bach were alive today, what would his music sound like?” Beautiful orchestral renditions filled the hall. To finish, Mouret’s Rondeau was repeated bringing the concert back to the feeling of its appealing start.
This experience can only be surpassed by, as an example, visits to German castles or Austrian palaces. There, audiences can assemble in the very rooms where the works were performed in their day. Musicians sometimes perform in period costume, using the old instruments.
Private performance April 14
PGSO April 21
Wind World Alban classical school show April 23 and 30